The following article was published in the February 2020 Villager Newspaper
Why you Should Try Kayak Fishing in 2020
Gary Rankel aka The PackerYaker
Why, you ask? First and foremost, because you live in Citrus County, surrounded by an awesome array of aquatic habitats and fisheries. Be it along our remote cypress covered shorelines in search of bigmouth bass, or scanning our mangroves and sea grass meadows for rod bending redfish, snook and seatrout, there’s few places offering a more rewarding combination of paddles and battles. It’s a piscatorial paddling paradise with an Old Florida feel.
Kayaks are way more affordable, virtually maintenance free and can easily be stored in out-of-the-way places. Spend hundreds on a portable, easily transportable, eco-friendly kayak or tens of thousands for a gas guzzling boat, motor and trailer, not to mention a vehicle large enough to pull it and associated high insurance premiums.
Avoid the hassle of registering, licensing, trailering, storing and maintaining large vessels and the frustration of waiting to launch in long lines behind growing numbers of knuckleheads who treat public ramps as campsites.
No more worries about dead batteries and water in the gas tank; just how many snacks and bottles of water to pack to keep your human motor running.
Go where power boats dare not venture with no fear of running aground, damaging your lower unit or tearing up our precious sea grass.
Experience the quiet and serenity of the backcountry, a closer connection with nature, and a back to basics / less is more lifestyle, while getting great exercise. Paddling silently as the sun rises can be a therapeutic and near religious experience.
Great fishing is often found a short paddle away. Stealthy, low profile kayaks allow you to sneak up on fish. If watching explosive topwater strikes while standing in your boat turns you on, wait till you see one seated inches above water level.
Close encounters with manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, rays, shorebirds and other wildlife in secluded settings make for quality outings even on slow fishing days. Do, however, keep an eye out for those pesky gators; they’re generally interested in more manageable bite-size morsels.
Treating family and friends to fresh fish dinners is a bonus. Constant 72 degree discharges from numerous springs into our bays and rivers provide great fishing even during our coldest months.
Modern fishing kayaks are not like the wobbly, confining, rock n roll models you capsized in as a kid. Scores of wider, roomier, stable and fishable sit-on-top, sit inside, pedal, inflatable and hybrid models made for anglers are now available to choose from. Many allow for stand-up sight fishing. Angler friendly paddle boards are also gaining in popularity.
Most plastic watercraft are relatively light (in the 50 – 90 pound range) and easily customized to meet personal needs. They generally include rod holders, hatches, tank wells and other features designed for storing fishing gear and accessories. Many can accommodate a small motor and second person, and allow for easy exits and re-entries if you’re into wading. As you would before buying a new vehicle, take them for a spin before deciding.
Paddling and kayak fishing clubs are springing up all over, providing numerous opportunities for outings with like minded individuals.
I may have missed a few reasons why you should consider taking up this fast growing sport, but you get the picture
Notwithstanding all of the above, kayak fishing is not for everyone. If you’re afflicted with some of the burdensome B’s so prevalent among us Baby Boomers (bad back, big butt, burgeoning belly and befuddled balance), you may prefer a power boat. If you’re not sure this sport is for you, you can rent a kayak for a day or hook up with a local kayak fishing guide who can show you the ropes.
If you’re up to the challenge and would like more how-to, where-to-go and safety-related info, check out my website. The Jan / Feb issue of Florida Sport Fishing Magazine also features an in-depth article on kayak fishing in Citrus County.
Hope to see some of you former power boaters paddling your shiny new plastic fishing machines in the backcountry soon.
Peaceful Paddles, Bracing Battles and Happy Landings
Nature Coast Kayak Fishers (http://fishingkayaks.us)